California Attorney General Bill Lockyer Files Criminal Charges Against Alleged "House Thieves"
Mortgage Fraud Blog reports that California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's investigation uncovered about 100 instances in which a husband and wife attempted to perpetrate some form of "home stealing" and which included one victim, a 78-year-old homeowner, who told investigators that he was living temporarily in a nursing home when he was victimized. Bail was set at $1.4 million.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan Sues Two "Foreclosure Rescue" Companies; Announces Proposed Legislation To Prevent Home Equity Fraud
In one case, home owners paid fees to Internet "foreclosure consultants" ranging from $350 to $900. It is alleged that these "consultants" failed to engage in the promised negotiations and did nothing more than the home owners could easily do themselves.
The second case involved several victims in separate incidents. Victims in at least two of the incidents signed incomplete and blank paperwork, including a Power of Attorney Form, and ultimately received only a fraction of their home equity.
In addition it was announced that legislation (Illinois Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act) was proposed (and has subsequently been passed) in the Illinois state legislature by Madigan and two Illinois lawmakers which will help ensure that Illinois home owners do not pay money for non-existent services or see their hard-earned home equity in their homes disappear into thin air.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan Strikes Again
The alleged "home equity thieves" in this case are being sued in a civil lawsuit for misleading homeowners to believe they could save their homes when in fact the homeowners were selling their homes to “foreclosure rescue” company employees who stripped out the substantial equity and left homeowners on the verge of eviction.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Announces Shutdown of Major "Mortgage Rescue" Scam
The alleged "home equity thieves" in this case targeted homeowners vulnerable to foreclosure; victims unwittingly signed over ownership to dishonest lender. In connection with the filing of this civil lawsuit, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued an emergency suspension of the loan originator registration of one participant, and revoked the license of Mutual Trust Funding Corporation. IDFPR shut down seven title insurance agencies being charged with complicity in the “mortgage rescue” operation.
To view a copy of the Emergency Suspension of Loan Originator Registration please click here.
To view the Order Revoking License please click here.
Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter Obtains Court Order Directing Refund of Fees Paid to "Foreclosure Consultant"
In this case, a court ordered a "foreclosure consultant" to refund fees of about $3,000 to three Indiana home owners and more than $82,000 in costs and penalties to the State of Indiana for failing to provide either a promised "work-out plan" or new financing.
Unfortunately in this case, all three home owners eventually lost their homes in foreclosure sales.
Massachusettes Attorney General Tom Reilly Announces Investigation of "Foreclosure Rescue" Companies
In this report, several "foreclosure consultants" and "foreclosure rescue" businesses are being investigated for allegedly targeting homeowners by offering to "rescue" them from foreclosures, but instead trick them into deeding over their property. In many instances, homeowners have lost their homes and the equity they had built.
Attorney General Reilly has called on all Massachusettes homeowners who think they have been victims of a "foreclosure rescue" scam to immediately contact his office by calling the AG's Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400.
Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly Files Suit Against Three "Foreclosure Rescue" and Mortgage Fraud Operations
Mortgage Fraud Blog reports that emergency orders have been obtained by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly in each of three civil lawsuits, in which judges have ordered an immediate stop of illegal practices, and ordered the alleged "deed thieves" not to evict any homeowners or sell any of their homes.
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon Obtains Consent Judgment and Permanent Injunction against "Foreclosure Consultants"
In this case, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon alleged in a civil lawsuit that the "foreclosure consultants" offered their services to a St. Joseph, Missouri resident who was in danger of losing his home to foreclosure. The "foreclosure consultants" approved him for a $20,000 loan, and then had him sign a general warranty deed on the house. The "consultants" claimed the deed was a second mortgage that was needed to secure the original loan, but instead it was designed to turn the man's home over to the defendants.
For an earlier report on this case, see:
Nixon files lawsuit to shut down fraudulent St. Joseph foreclosure consultant
Homeowners Victimized By Foreclosure Rescue Scam
In this article by Dan Olson of Minnesota Public Radio, he reports:
In one matter, the Minnesota Attorney General's Office filed a civil lawsuit against an alleged "home equity thief" who has been reported as initiating 95 evictions and related actions involving reportedly questionable real estate deals.
One of the alleged victims took back the house that she says she was tricked into selling to the alleged "home equity thief". The next day, the alleged "home equity thief" called St. Paul, Minnesota police and had the home owner removed and arrested. She was charged with trespass and released from jail the same day;
In another unrelated matter, the Colorado Attorney General's Office filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of more than 100 homeowners. Ultimately, 70 of them won their homes back. There was a cash settlement of $1.1 million. Customers had been bilked out of an estimated $15 million.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper Shuts Down Alleged Foreclosure Fraudsters
A Wake County, North Carolina Superior Court judge has ordered a "foreclosure assistance" company and its owner and president to cease operating while Attorney General Cooper’s civil lawsuit against them goes forward.
In this case, the "foreclosure assistance" company is accused of taking upfront fees from North Carolina home owners and then did little or nothing to help the home owners stave off foreclosure actions.
Pennsylvania Prosecutor's Office Obtains Guilty Plea Against Home Thief
In one outrageous case, Real Estate Journal.com reports that a San Francisco man pleaded guilty to identity theft in Bucks County, Pa. This identity thief used information he obtained on 73-year-old man of Tinicum Township, Pa. to reroute the victim's mail to California. The thief then attempted to take ownership of the house in order to sell it, and even tried to convince a real-estate agent that the real homeowner was a squatter trespassing, court papers said. The scam artist pleaded guilty to identify theft and a host of other felonies and was sentenced to probation for 36 months and required to pay $775 in restitution, according to the Bucks County Court clerk's office.
Detroit Man Gets 3 Years in Foreclosure Scam
Mortgage Fraud Blog reports that a Detroit, Michigan man was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment for mail fraud involving a scheme to cheat financially distressed Detroit homeowners whose homes were in foreclosure.
The man charged the homeowners a $1,000 fee in cash for his services and then eventually used bankruptcy petition filings to temporarily stop pending foreclosure actions.
The cases were eventually dismissed and the foreclosure proceedings were allowed to continue.
The U.S. Trustees Office has identified more than 20 such fraudulent petitions filed with the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Detroit, and several more were filed in a California Federal Bankruptcy Court after this "foreclosure fraudster" had been enjoined from filing any further cases in Detroit.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Files Emergency Action Halting Bogus Foreclosure Rescue Operation
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a legal action to stop a Houston woman from unlawfully exploiting distressed homeowners, some of them elderly, who face imminent foreclosure and eviction. A Harris County District Judge granted a temporary restraining order and asset freeze.
The Attorney General's News Release cites the case of an alleged "deed thief" who fraudulently takes possession of the home of an 85-year-old Houston man under the guise of helping the homeowner prevent foreclosure. The man allegedly was led to believe he was only allowing the "home equity thief" to consult with his mortgage company, but in fact the transaction allowed the alleged thief to take ownership of his home.
Click here for the Attorney General's Original Petition
Click here for the Court's Temporary Restraining Order/Asset Freeze
California Judge Decides to Proceed to Trial in Matter of Accused "Deed Thieves"
A November 21, 2006 Modesto Bee article reports that three accused foreclosure scam artists face multiple felony counts of fraud and grand theft, and in a preliminary hearing that ended after five weeks of testimony. Stanislaus County Judge Hurl Johnson has decided that there is enough evidence to warrant a trial.
In addition, the article indicates that prosecutors still plan to file additional counts against the three people accused of swindling homeowners, with additional victims to be named, a spokesman said.
A Modesto Bee investigation revealed that the accused defendants had acquired at least 142 properties from people being threatened with foreclosure in four California counties.
The victims include an 86-year-old woman with dementia who has since died, a 66-year-old schizophrenic, a woman with brain lesions and several other disabled people.
Another victim said his parents, who had helped him buy his home, warned him not to get involved with the accused "deed thieves", and wrote him out of their will when he didn't listen. He said he should have cleared more than $100,000 in equity. Instead, he said, he lived out of his car after the men evicted him the day before Thanksgiving in 2003.
One victim accepted $10,000 for her home, thinking it represented a portion of the estimated $157,000 in equity her home had built over several years. She later realized she had signed over the deed, she said.
The woman asked not to be named for fear that family members would be angry. She had inherited the home from her mother.
Click Here for an earlier November 17, 2006 article on this story
Click Here for an earlier July, 2005 article on this story
Texas Woman Accused of "Deed Theft" Pleads No Contest
A September 26, 2006 article by Elizabeth Allen in the San Antonio Express-News reports that a Texas woman pleaded no contest to two counts of securing execution of documents by deception in a "deed theft" scheme where she took over ownership of the home of an octogenarian.
At 81, the victim met the scam artist in 2002, and during that year she began draining his personal funds, according to court documents. After he fell and his health declined, she placed him in a nursing home.
"She put a note on his file that he was to have no visitors, especially family members," said Assistant District Attorney Joanne Woodruff.
The staff at the nursing home would spend their own money to buy the victim clothes, shoes and personal items because he had become so tattered, she said.
According to the follow up story, the "deed thief" ultimately was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $380,000 in restitution.
Click Here for the follow up story.
Follow up Story also available here